Against hate -Project
The objective of the project Against Hate is to develop the work against hate crime and hate speech.
The project focuses on the development of hate crime reporting, on the enhancement of the capacity of the police, prosecutors and judges to act against hate crime and hate speech, and on the development of support services for victims of hate crime.
The project is implemented between 1.12.2017 and 30.11.2019.
The Finnish Discrimination Monitoring Group published a report on the effects of hate speech in March 2016. According to the report, hate speech and other harassment occur most often in the streets, parking places, parks, and other public places. The second most common place is the internet, especially public discussion forums and social media sites.
To better identify, prevent and tackle hate crime and hate speech, different parties' knowledge and skills in this area must be enhanced. In addition to authorities, potential victims must also be better informed of the available support services, among other things. The changed situation also increases the need for exchanging experiences and good practices among European colleagues. Cooperation between the involved actors is often the most effective means to prevent, identify and tackle hate crime and hate speech.
Journalists and hate speech
In addition to encountering hate speech in their work, journalists are also targeted by it. This type of targeting can range from individual hateful messages to entire hate campaigns. The aim of this type of hate speech is to silence social discussion.
Hate crime in district courts in 2018
The Ministry of Justice has published a memorandum that presents statistics on hate crime in district courts in 2018. The memorandum also contains summaries of sentences passed for ethnic agitation and sentences where the severity of the punishment was increased because of a hate motive.
Sentences where ethnic agitation was the principal type of crime numbered 31 in 2018. In the clear majority of cases, the venue was Facebook.
In 2018, district courts passed 55 sentences in cases coded by the police as hate crimes. In 20 of these sentences, the main type of crime was ethnic agitation.
The memorandum in Finnish is available here and an abstract in English is here.
Survey on work against hate crime and hate speech
A survey examining the work against hate crime and hate speech was conducted as part of the Against Hate project. The purpose of the survey was to find out what kind of work against hate crime and hate speech is carried out in Finland, who carries out the work, what kind of deficiencies exist in the work, and whether there is a need to draw up a national action plan focusing on hate crime. The respondents were also requested to describe the key challenges and areas of development in the work against hate crime and hate speech.
Actions against hate crime and hate speech are diverse
According to the answers, actions against hate crime and hate speech are very diverse and involve a number of different actors.
Many action plans deal with or touch upon hate crime, but there is no specific action plan focusing on hate crime. A number of measures are being taken to prevent and identify hate crime and to tackle it, but the measures lack overall coordination. Many respondents called for improvements in the coordination. Many also pointed out that the current actions are not in line with all the recommendations issued to Finland by the monitoring bodies for human rights treaties and other human rights mechanisms.
In addition to improving coordination, an array of different development targets from legislative amendments to awareness raising were mentioned in the responses.
The current materials dealing with this topic focus especially on hate speech, and many of them are targeted at children/young people or people working with them.
All organisations working against hate crime and hate speech have not clearly defined what they mean by these concepts. Especially the definitions of hate speech differ from each other. Depending on the actor, the measures focus on hate speech either as a punishable act or as a broader phenomenon. Measures taken by actors responsible for legal assessment/oversight of legality focus on punishable or criminalised hate speech, whereas organisations engaged in preventive measures see hate speech as a broader phenomenon.
Impact assessment of the measures taken seems to be rare. This needs to be developed in future in order to obtain information on what kind of measures are the most effective ones.
Survey in Finnish: Kartoitus viharikosten ja vihapuheen vastaisista toimista
Ministry of Justice (coordinator)